You don't have to be a body builder to benefit from a little food prep. In fact, if you want to have a successful week both in and outside your kitchen, a little time preparing can save you a lot of time and effort throughout the week.
I'm not one to weigh, measure and portion out every meal, my prep usually involves minimising mundane tasks that tend to take up a lot of time. I also like to streamline what my family will eat that week by utilising similar ingredients throughout our meals and adding what's needed to make it work.
Here is a sample list of meals that we would mix up throughout the week:
Overnight Chia Puddings - quick and easy breakfast that you can make ahead for the whole week.
Eggs and Avo on Toast - standard post work out choice.
Granola and coconut yoghurt - love some home made granola with a generous dollop of coconut yoghurt and berries.
Smoothies - smoothies are a quick way to blend a whole bunch of goodness to take out the door.
Omelette - when we have a little extra time, an omelette is a great way to up your veg intake for the day.
Buckwheat or Quinoa Porridge - these are great because you can literally prep the overnight, heat up in the morning and add fresh toppings for extra flavour, colour and goodness.
Meze platters - The word "meze" means "taste" and/or "snack." The concept is very similar to the tapas of Spain, but with different ingredients. I'm not a traditionalist, at our house it just means a bit of this, a bit of that.
Super salads - literally throw together what ever is in the fridge that I have prepared earlier. See
Rice paper or sushi rolls - simply shred up some veg, add protein, a dipping sauce and you're ready to roll.
Dinner leftovers, reinvented - always make enough dinner to have for lunch the next day. All you need to do is add some fresh salad.
Some sort of fish - oven baked salmon parcels, pan fried barramundi, baked whole fish if we are feeling a little fancy and have time to deal with bones
Curry - I usually make my own curry paste and keep it in the freezer so a curry can literally be made in a hurry when I have hungry mouths to feed
Tacos - Living with a Mexican these are always a hit. I usually slow cook some sort of meat or season some roast chook bits, add salsa, guacamole and some coulorful veg and we're set.
Meat and three veg - This is usually a barbecued lamb cutlet situation or a bit of grilled chicken with a side of sauerkraut, sweet potato and something green like broccoli or green beans.
Slow cooked meals - this is the ultimate time saver because I literally throw a bunch of ingredients together in a slow cooker in the morning, and it's ready to eat by dinner time.
15 food prep hacks to save you time in the kitchen
1. Use clear containers
If you can't see it, you won't eat it. When storing food, I find it very useful to see what's in your fridge. If it's hiding at the bottom of your crisper, buried under tons of veg, chances are it's going to go off before you get to eat it. Minimise food waste by storing food in clear containers.
2. Cook or chop once, eat three times
Try to get at least three meals out of every ingredient for example cook enough quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat to use a side but also for breakfast as a porridge the next day, and as a boost to your salad for lunch a day later.
3. Pre-chop veggies
Figure out what veggies are used the most in your meal and pre-chop enough to use over a couple of days at a time. I don't keep pre-chopped veggies for more than three days generally. Think green beans, capsicum, cabbage. Shredded cabbage is a great way to add extra fibre and vibrant colour to your meals, I would use this in a rice paper or sushi roll or add to a salad for lunch.
4. Break up cauliflower and broccoli in to florets
We go through a bit of broccoli and cauliflower in our house so I save time by breaking them up so I can add then to meals quickly - you can take this a step further and roast some cauliflower or steam some broccoli to save time on cooking.
5. Soak chia seeds
I like to pre-soak a cup of chia seeds to add to smoothies or create express chia puddings by adding coconut yoghurt to about 2 tbs of soaked chia seeds, then top with berries in the morning. Soaking chia seeds stops them from absorbing fluids from your gut later and gives your body extra fibre, protein and omega 3s!
6. Peel your garlic
We use garlic in pretty much every savoury dish so I like to save time by peeling my garlic. You can even be super lazy and buy bags that are already peeled.
7. Make a dip
I love snacking on vegetable sticks with a little home made dip. Hummus is the easiest thing you can make and will add extra protein, fibre and good fats to your snack meaning it will last a little longer. I make a double batch of hummus and add a little roast beetroot or pumpkin to the second batch for extra colour and flavour.
8. Make a soup
Soups are awesome because they're an instant lunch, and if you make enough you can freeze them. Love a good pumpkin soup so I usually make a Pumpkin, Ginger and Carrot or Thai Pumpkin for a little extra kick. Serve with a side of crusty bread and hummus and your lunch is sorted.
9. Put your salad in a jar
This is very trendy at the moment but I love it because it's handy, portable, doesn't leak and saves space in the fridge. Check out my tips for packing a perfect salad in a jar.
10. Prep your meat
Cook up a large batch of grilled chicken, or slow cooked pork and divide it up into zip lock bags to take out as needed to add to a salad, put in a taco or into a rice paper roll.
11. Make some fritters
Fritters are very easy to make and are very versatile. You can have them for breakfast, as a snack or with a salad as a light meal. Best bit is that kids love them too, and they're a great way to smuggle in extra veggies for fussy eaters. Check out these 9 great fitter recipes for inspiration.
12. Roast your veggies
Roast veggies make a great addition to salads, as a side or even thrown into an omelette for breakfast (or a lazy dinner). Roast a big tray of sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, parsnips, and beets on the weekend, and add to meals as necessary.
13. Bake some muffins
Muffins are always a hit at our house. They're tasty, healthy and portable. I like to bake a batch of my Fudgy Chocolate Muffins or convert this Carrot, Walnut and Amaranth Cake recipe into muffins (without the icing) on the weekend and when they're cool enough, pop what hasn't been devoured in the freezer in zip lock bags. I then take them out as needed as they only need an hour or so to defrost.
14. Make protein balls
Just like muffins protein balls make a great portable snack. These amazing Fit Foodie Mixes have made the whole process so much easier because all you have to do is pick from Vanilla and Coconut, Chocolate and Chia or Cookie Dough, transfer ingredients into a mixing bowl, add coconut oil and rice malt syrup, stir and roll. How easy is that?
15. Make your own stock
I like to make stocks (or broths) on the weekend to make sure of any veggies that we haven't used that week. Stocks or broths, whatever you want to call them are a great addition to the weekly menu roster because you can use them to make soups, drink on their own instead of coffee or tea, or add them to stews and casseroles. Check out this Basic Bone Broth Recipe.